BTW Thrive

Lacey Wallis, Hermiston Community Bank branch manager, presents a check from its annual holiday Charity Drive to Kriss Dammeyer, director of Made to Thrive.

New Year’s Eve started with a bang in Hermiston this year, but not as much of a bang as the city had hoped.

The city’s first New Year’s Eve celebration on the new festival street in front of city hall drew an estimated 300 people by midnight, and live music by The Shades was followed by a fireworks show.

While the fireworks were successfully launched over a six-foot-long papier-mâché watermelon suspended by a Umatilla County Fire District ladder truck, the watermelon did not explode into a shower of confetti as planned.

Parks and recreation director Larry Fetter said the cold weather caused some unexpected technically difficulties, but promised next year the watermelon will explode.

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Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oregon) will be holding town halls in Umatilla and Morrow counties on Jan. 23.

He will stop at the Pendleton Convention Center, 1601 Westgate in Pendleton, at 8:30 a.m. and the SAGE Center, 101 Olsen Road. in Boardman, at noon.

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In recognition of School Board Appreciation Month, the Hermiston School District recently gave a shout-out on its Facebook page to their board of education.

The group of local citizens are elected to the board and do not receive pay for their voluntary service. The members include board chair Karen Sherman, Dave Smith, Josh Goller, Bonnie Luisi, Mark Gomolski, Ginny Holthus and Brent Pitney, who was appointed from a pool of five individuals in November to replace the seat vacated by Jason Middleton.

For more about the school board, including a link to meeting agendas and minutes, visit

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Made to Thrive recently cashed in on the annual Community Bank Charity Drive. Kriss Dammeyer, director of the Hermiston-based nonprofit organization, received a check from Lacey Wallis, Hermiston Community Bank branch manager.

Each of the bank’s branches in northeast Oregon and southeast Washington had a local nonprofit organization it was collecting money for. The bank matched donations at 50 cents on each dollar, with a maximum match amount of $500 at each of its branch locations. Over the past nine years, the Community Bank Charity Drive has provided more than $194,000 to charities throughout the region.

Founded in 2014, Made to Thrive’s mission is to stop the cycle of child abuse, neglect and poverty by providing opportunities for the physical and emotional benefits of sports, adventure activities, music and the arts to vulnerable youth. For more information, visit

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Special guests John Witherspoon and Isaac Butts of Wake Up Nation will be featured during the 2019 Martin Luther King Jr. March in Hermiston. In addition to the march, the event’s program is Monday, Jan. 21 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church. Call John Carbage at 541-701-7073 or see next week’s Hermiston Herald for more details.


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